When I talk with others who have received a cancer diagnosis, they often want to know what my secret was. What did I do to survive cervical cancer and thyroid cancer? They are looking for a glimmer of hope.
Give your body what it needs
People don't ask me what I specifically did to beat cancer. Rather, they ask about the chemotherapy drugs that were given to me -- Cisplatin and Alimta.
I often share that I was in the best shape of my life when I received my second cervical cancer diagnosis, as I had just run a marathon. I also tell them that I continued to exercise during my cervical cancer treatment. It was important to me to keep moving and let cancer know what I thought.
I also encourage people to let their bodies get the help they need. As much as I stayed active during my treatments, I allowed my body to rest and soak in the medicine during the weeks that I underwent chemotherapy.
Find the right treatment
Another thing people want to know is why I chose to travel thousands of miles from my home in Florida to MD Anderson for cancer treatment. I knew of MD Anderson's reputation and credentials as a leading cancer center, so I decided to go there for treatment.
I am thankful that I was treated at MD Anderson. It wasn't easy to fly for treatments, but it was worth it.
Taking time to live during cancer treatment
I also continued to live during my treatment. I didn't stop doing things because I had cancer. A friend told me that I changed what the face of cancer is for her. She said that most people give a sense of doom and gloom while having cancer. She says that I did not.
During the week that chemotherapy knocked me down, my friends didn't hear from me. But as I started to gain strength again, I lived my life like I didn't have cancer. There were plenty of "live like you're dyin'" moments with my friends, but the emphasis was on living. Yes, we skydived, and yes, we rode a mechanical bull. But most importantly, we lived -- and we gained a new perspective on what it meant to.
The way I lived and looked at life during my diagnosis were not conscious decisions. It was the only way I knew how to face cancer. Everyone has to do it their own way. You have to find your own inner peace on your journey.